Chalcidice or Chalkidike or Chalkidiki or Halkidiki or Hallkipiki (Greek: Χαλκιδική[xalciðiˈci]), is a peninsula and regional unit of Greece, part of the Region of Central Macedonia in Northern Greece. The autonomous Mount Athos region constitutes the easternmost part of the peninsula, but not of the regional unit. The capital of Chalkidiki is the main town of Polygyros, located in the centre of the peninsula.
Chalkidiki today is a popular summer tourist destination.
Aristotle was born here in 384 B.C.
The Cholomontas mountains lie in the north-central part of Chalkidiki. Chalkidiki consists of a large peninsula in the northwestern Aegean Sea, resembling a hand with three "fingers" (though in Greek these peninsulas are often referred to as "legs") – Pallene (now Kassandra), Sithonia, and Agion Oros (the ancient Acte), which contains Mount Athos and its monasteries. Chalkidiki borders on the regional unit of Thessaloniki to the north.
Its largest towns are Nea Moudania (Νέα Μουδανιά), Nea Kallikrateia (Νέα Καλλικράτεια) and the capital town of Polygyros (Πολύγυρος).
There are several summer resorts on the beaches of all three fingers where other minor towns and villages are located, such as at Yerakini (Gerakina Beach), Neos Marmaras (Porto Carras), Ouranoupolis, Nikiti, Psakoudia, Kallithea (Pallene/Pallini, Athos), Sani Resort and more.
The peninsula is notable for its olive oil and olive production. Also various types of wine are produced.
Chalkidiki has been a popular summer tourist destination since the late 1950s when people from Thessaloniki started spending their summer holidays in the coastal villages. In the beginning tourists rented rooms in the houses of locals. By the 1960s, tourists from Austria and Germany started to visit Chalkidiki more frequently. Since the start of the big tourist boom in the 1970s, the whole region has been captured by tourism. In the region there is a golf course and there is a plan for other four in the future.
Gold was mined in the region during antiquity by Philip II of Macedon and the next rulers. Since 2013, a revival of mining for gold and other minerals was underway with a number of concessions having been granted to Eldorado Gold of Canada. However, critics claim that mining would adversely affect tourism and the environment.
Transportation - Get In
To get to Halkidiki there are buses that leave from the Chalkidiki Bus Station located south of Thessalonki. To get to this bus station you can take a 45A from the commuter bus station adjacent to Thessalonki Train Station, Chalkidiki Bus Station is the final stop.
From Chalkidiki Bus Station there are frequent services to numerous destinations. Schedule information can be found at www.ktel-chalkidikis.gr.
- Northern Chalkidiki
- Agios Mamas
- Nea Phokea
- Mount Athos
The first Greek settlers in this area came from Chalcis and Eretria, cities in Euboea, around the 8th century BC who founded cities such as Mende, Toroni and Scione a second wave came from Andros in the 6th century BC who founded cities such as Akanthos. The ancient city of Stageira was the birthplace of the great philosopher Aristotle. Chalkidiki was an important theatre of war during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Later, the Greek colonies of the peninsula were conquered by Philip II of Macedon and Chalkidiki became part of Macedonia (ancient kingdom). After the end of the wars between the Macedonians and the Romans, the region became part of the Roman Empire, along with the rest of Greece. At the end of the Roman Republic (in 43 BC) a Roman colony was settled in Cassandreia, which was later (in 30 BC) resettled by Augustus.
During the following centuries, Chalkidiki was part of the Byzantine Empire (East Roman Empire). On a chrysobull of Emperor Basil I, dated 885, the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos) was proclaimed a place of monks, and no laymen or farmers or cattle-breeders were allowed to be settled there. With the support of Nikephoros II Phokas, the Great Lavra monastery was founded soon afterwards. Today, over 2,000 monks from Greece and many other Eastern Orthodox countries, such as Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, live an ascetic life in Athos, isolated from the rest of the world. Athos with its monasteries has been self-governing ever since.
After a short period of domination by the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonica, the area became again Byzantine until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1430. During the Ottoman period, the peninsula was important for its gold mining. In 1821, the Greek War of Independence started and the Greeks of Chalkidiki revolted under the command of Emmanouel Pappas, a member of Filiki Eteria, and other local fighters. The revolt was progressing slowly and unsystematically. The insurrection was confined to the peninsulas of Mount Athos and Kassandra. One of the main goals was to restrain and detain the coming of the Ottoman army from Istanbul, until the revolution in the south (mainly Peloponese) became stable. Finally, the revolt resulted in a decisive Ottoman victory at Kassandra. The survivors, among them Papas, were rescued by the Psarian fleet, which took them mainly to Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. The Ottomans proceeded in retaliation and many villages were burnt.
Finally, the peninsula was incorporated into the Greek Kingdom in 1912 after the Balkan Wars. In June 2003, at the holiday resort of Porto Carras located in Neos Marmaras, Sithonia, leaders of the European Union presented the first draft of the European Constitution .
Things to see
- Byzantine watch tower of the Agios Pavlos in Nea Phokea
- Old traditional villages of Parthenon, Sykia and Nikiti
- Monasteries of the Mount Athos peninsula — 20 Byzantine Christian orthodox Monasteries and numerous Sketes, allowed only to men visitors, the biggest and most important monastic community of Greece, with 1800 monks living there today
- The Cave of Petralona, with the spectacular stalactites and stalagmites and the oldest human finds of Greece
- Excavations of ancient Stageira, birthplace of the philosopher Aristotle
Money & Shopping
- Local flower and pine honey from Nikiti and Arnea, the two biggest centres of Greek honey.
- Wooven woolen articles from Arnea.
- Tsipouro, the strong-kind-of-ouzo schnapps from the local villagers.
- Wine. The winters here are mild and the summers are long and dry. The good climate, among with the mineral-rich soil, are crucial factors for the famous wine-making of the area. The most famous wine is that produced in Sithonia, in the Neos Marmaras area, the Porto Carras
- Olives and olive oil. Production areas: Mount Meliton, Pallini Peninsula, Holomon foothills, Polygyros, Ormylia, Olynhtos and Nea Moudania
- Cheese products